Patra's Other Place

I started out with Patra's Place, primarily dedicated to my linen collection and stitching projects. But I kept getting side-tracked, so I decided to create Patra's Other Place for anything not related to embroidery topics. So you now have a choice. If you are interested in me, read this. If you only want to see my linen and stitching, visit Patra's (original) Place! (Please note that by clicking on any of the photos, they will be enlarged to fill your computer screen.)

My Photo
Location: Melbourne, Vic., Australia

I am married to Ken. We have no children except two cats and a collection of finches, canaries and Rhode Island bantam hens.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Five weeks later.

Somebody commented to me the other day that I haven't posted anything to this blog lately.  So I looked, and they were right.  To tell the truth, I had forgotten all about it.  I've posted a few bits and pieces on my stitching blog, but just don't seem to have the same enthusiasm lately.  So for the benefit of whoever might still be keeping an eye on me,  this is a brief rundown of the past month.

I'm still wallowing in the delight of our lovely kitchen.  We now have four new chairs to replace the 50's retro chrome and plastic ones, and we are waiting for a holland blind to be installed.  This replaces the 40 year old curtains that were on the floor to ceiling window.  God I'm glad they are gone....I got to hate them in the last few years!  The windows in the lounge and dining room have the same curtains, and I am looking forward to getting rid of them too, in due course.

The solar panels are connected and generating electricity, and Energy Australia tells us that our next electricity reading should be a quarter of what it has been.  We are getting a tree lopper to come and chop off some branches from some of the larger trees on the west side of the house that overlook the solar panels, and that will increase the amount of sunlight they get.

Ken's finches and canaries are mostly surviving the cold winter, although they've lost many of their babies, but that is to be expected from these birds which are native to a tropical climate in northern Australia.  We're surprised that even the adult birds have survived so well.  The chooks are all feathered up after their long moult in autumn, and are laying enough eggs for our use.  The cats are the cats.  What else does one say about them?

Ken's health is fairly stable.  I am so thankful that he retired in time to avoid being exposed to such  a cold winter, as I think he would have had a lot of time off work otherwise.  He keeps himself occupied with his new car, the bikes (rides on fine days with his mates), looking after the birds, and doing small maintenance stuff around the house.  We have a gardener come every couple of months to mow the lawns, whippersnip edges, and prune shrubs etc. because Ken doesn't have the strength for that now.

Apart from when we go out somewhere together, I spend my time reading, sewing, chatting to friends (mostly on the phone in this weather - it's been too cold to go out for morning/afternoon teas!), and the usual cooking and housework.  

Thursday, July 10, 2014

IT'S FINISHED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Our kitchen is finally all finished - thank goodness, no more dust, paint fumes, stuff piled up around the house, not being able to cook!   We found a painter who lives not far from us, and has a painting business in Preston.  His quote was more expensive than the other three we got, but he was very professional - the three page quote was very detailed, and I said to Ken I don't mind paying more if the job is going to be done properly.
Alan and one of his employees Abdul (we learned they are both from Iran) started work in our kitchen on Monday.  Ken and I had taken everything off the walls and benchtops, and taken down the curtains.  The chook cafe curtains were carefully put aside, but the 40 year old scrim curtains were thrown in a heap out in the yard along with the curtain rods and sun block drapes that were behind the scrim.  I liked them when we first moved into the house, but ended up hating them because they were impossible to wash and very expensive to get dry cleaned!   We have two curtain shops in Eltham, so we will be going there in the next day or two to select some nice curtains in a fabric that I can toss in the washing machine when need be.

Getting back to Alan and Abdul, the whole of  Monday morning was taken up in preparing to paint.  They put plastic over everything - walls and cabinets - everywhere that didn't need painting.  Dropsheets on the floor of course.  Then they started sanding the window frames, which were stained with dark brown, and were to be painted cream.  So the brown had to come off.  One of them did that, and the other stood on a ladder and sanded the ceiling.   The dust and noise was worse than when the old kitchen was being ripped out!   Once they'd done that, they put the first undercoat on the ceiling, and started patching up the walls with plaster.  The walls were in a real mess, with holes in from shelves that had been removed, and years of nail holes from me hanging calendars etc. up.  Ken said NO MORE NAILS!  but I just smiled at him and said "This is MY space, butt out".  LOL!
Here is Alan waving at me among all the mess!  He and Abdul were great - very cheerful, and very hard workers.  See what I mean about the plastic??

Abdul on his knees painting window frames.

Alan had originally stated in his quote that it would take five days, but by Tuesday night, the ceiling, walls and window frames all had two coats of paint.  On Wednesday, Abdul spent the day on finishing touches and cleaning up.  The ceiling is flat white, the walls are "China White" and the window frames were to be white, but Alan showed us a lovely creamy colour that matched the cabinets, so we decided on that instead.  The following are all the photos I took tonight after Abdul had finished for the day and shook hands with us.

 In the above photo you can see the glass splashback.

 Table set for tea with chook placemats.  Our first meal at home in three days!  It was impossible to cook or eat in the kitchen with all the mess before they'd finished, so we went out to dinner with friends on Monday, and down to the Eltham Hotel on Tuesday on our own.

This is the pantry with the doors open to show the adjustable spice racks that I hunted all over for, and finally found in Bunnings in Box Hill.

Sigh....I think I'll just set up a camp bed in the kitchen and spend the rest of my life in here.  Why did I ever think I would regret this renovation?   We are already talking about the bathrooms now!

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Kitchen soon to be finished.

The splashback and kickplates are in, the painter is coming next week to paint the ceiling, walls and window frames, and after that we'll choose the curtains, and that will be IT! I'm not taking any more photos until it is completely finished. Ken is already talking about getting the bathrooms fixed up but I begged him to give us a break. Between the kitchen, fences, and solar panels, I am so tired of spending every day at home waiting for tradesmen. These three things aren't finished yet! We need a quote on the fence on the other side of the house, and the same tradie has promised to build a chook run for us. Apart from the painter, the kitchen plumbing still has to be inspected by a government person before they can issue the compliance certificate. The solar panels have been inspected, and now we wait for SPAustnet to install a new meter to measure the solar energy generated, then that will be switched on. In the meantime I've been sewing various items which are on my other blog. I went to the Craft and Quilt show last Sunday and bought some nice fabric. We've had a few friends drop by to check out the kitchen, and we've been out shopping for odds and ends. New chairs for the kitchen, and techno. stuff for the t.v. Don't even ask - I don't go there, it is Ken's baby. I haven't used my Samsung tablet much - just to check emails sometimes in the morning while I'm having breakfast, and if I don't feel like doing anything in particular, I will play Spider Solitaire or Sudoku on it. I had my car serviced today and that cost $300, which included a new tyre. I always feel relieved when the car has been given a clean bill of health by the workshop we use - they are very reliable and honest, and the car really does feel better to drive when it is done. That's my week.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Powered by the Aussie Sun!

Yep, we've done it.  Gone solar.  Today we had 18 solar panels installed on our roof, along with the inverter to convert the sun's power to electricity in our house.   Mark Australia are the company who did the job, and we are very happy with their workers and professional approach.  No back yarders here!
 The two workers arrived just before 8 am and worked through until nearly 3 pm to get it finished.  There was a massive amount of work to be done, and they told us that there are usually three or four men working on one job, but they were short staffed today, so these two guys had to do our house on their own.

 One man was up on the roof putting all the rails down for the panels to lie on.  He also had to feed the cable from the panels on to the ground so the electrician could link it up with the inverter.  Which meant lots of drilling holes through the garage wall to link the inverter with our electricity supply meter box.

Those panels are large!
Lots of banging on the roof while they were fixing the panels....

And they got it all finished before it started raining!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Fences, tearing down, falling down, and building new ones.

Pity I didn't get around to photographing the old fence before it was removed, but these two pics show what it looked like after the palings had all gone. We never saw this much of our neighbour's yard before from our place, and vice versa!

The next two photos below are from the same view point after the new fence was finished.

Today we had a huge storm in Melbourne, and Ken and I are thankful that the side fence was finished by now!  But the fence at the back of the property had a loss.  This fence was built about two years ago, and is still good as new.  But there was part of the old fence still attached to the top of it, to give us more privacy from the neighbours at the rear.  (It was actually the people who built our house who wanted the privacy - we couldn't care less as we like the neighbours in the house behind us).  Anyway, Ken and I had been talking for years about pulling the old bit of fence down, but today the storm did it for us!  Blew the whole lot down, just missing the aviaries, and giving the chooks one hell of a fright!  We heard the crash from inside our house, then all the squawking, and we thought a tree must have fallen on the avaries, but no, it was just one of those events that turned out to be in our favour.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Busy busy busy around here!

Ken and I just flop down at the end of the day and gaze at each other lately!   I seem to get out of bed running, and even though he doesn't usually get up at the same time, once he is up and dressed, it's all systems go.  Obviously the new kitchen has kept us busy recently, and Cliff is coming tomorrow to finish it off completely (I hope).  We've had three painters out to quote on painting the ceiling and window frames, but haven't had any quotes from them yet (they all promised to email them to me, and I've got the printer switched on ready to print them out, but...)
The fence that was falling over between our house and the next door neighbour is finally being fixed.  Well, replaced actually.   What a drama that was.  I got two quotes and M. next door got two more, and we decided on a local timber yard who build fences.  They said someone will be here on Tuesday, and it would take two days to rip down the old fence and put up a new one.  M. put their dog into boarding kennels for this week so they wouldn't have to tie him up.  Nobody turned up Tuesday and after repeated phone calls, I finally got onto a woman who told me that Monday's jobs were washed out due to the rain so they had to go back and finish them before coming to us.  I said thanks for letting us know NOT, and when can we now expect someone to do our fence?  She said she would get her husband to ring us back, and at 10 pm he did, leaving a message that our fence would be started at 7.30 am on Thursday and would be finished on Friday.

Thursday morning I got up at 7 am and unlocked the gate to our backyard.  M. left his garage open so the fence man could get in their yard if he needed to.  8 am, 9 am then 10 am, and nobody had arrived, and no phone calls to explain why not.  By this time I was fuming, and again after several phone calls to the office, where girls kept telling me "I'll forward your message", I finally got a call from the business owner who said "Sean is on his way now" and that was it.  So when "Sean" arrived at 10.45 I met him at the gate and said "About effing time".  The poor guy nearly fell over... he explained that he was actually a subcontractor and had only been given our job that morning.  He was also furious at the timber yard company because they hadn't given him any details about our job, and there was about 6 hours digging to be done before he could start building the fence.

He was left to do the whole job himself - 30 metres of fencing to be pulled down, trench dug, posts set in concrete, and palings to be put on.   Well, by 4 pm Friday he had done it  all except nail the palings to the frame, and Ken and I were floored at the pace he worked.  Oh to be young and fit again!  So today, Sean will be back to finish the fence, Cliff will be here to finish the kitchen, Ken will be collecting his Honda from the workshop where he had some work done on it, so another busy day coming up.

I don't know if it is the pace of life at the moment, or I'm just getting old(er) but I decided today that I didn't want to commit myself to working at the opshop every week.  I phoned the lady in charge of the roster, and told her that I was happy to be on the emergency list, but I wouldn't be working there every Friday from now on.   Fortunately they have a few new volunteers who are eager to work several days a week, so I'm not leaving them in a hole.  It worked out well for me not going in there today.  I did a heap of baking for Sunday (friends coming), two loads of washing, and various other chores that wouldn't have been done if I'd been at the opshop.  And I've gone off bringing home so many knick knacks, books, fabrics, etc. - we just got far too much of everything.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Kitchen still not finished, but will be soon.

Cliff rang today regarding finishing off the kitchen.  He was going to do it tomorrow, but he said he has another job where the clients are putting pressure on him to finish it by the end of the week.  He sounded harrassed, the poor guy, and I do know how busy he is, having been to his factory and seen the works in progress.  He does mostly commercial work with a few residential jobs like mine thrown in the mix when he has the time.  He said he had everything in the factory to finish our kitchen - the glass splashback and other bits and pieces, and asked if it was okay for him to come out next Saturday to finish it up.   I said of course it is okay, and told him that he should perhaps take the day off and spend it with his family - I don't mind waiting a bit longer, seeing he hasn't asked for any payment yet, and I have a fully functional kitchen!  But he said no, he would be here on Saturday unless something else crops up to delay him.

In the meantime we have two painters coming this week to give us a quote on painting the ceiling and what's left of the walls to paint, as well as the window frames.  One of our neighbours was putting rubbish out on the nature strip today, and I went over to say hi, as she travels a lot and we don't see much of each other.  I told her about the kitchen and she came over for a look - she was impressed! 

While I haven't used the dishwasher much (three times so far), I just love the gas cooktop. Today I made those little Dutch pancakes "Proffertjes" and they were delicious!  Ken bought me the special Proffertjes pan a few years ago and as it cost about $90, he was always on my back about using it.  But as I explained to him, some things are not possible to use successfully on an electric hot plate, and this was one of them.  But today - whoo hoo - success!

 My pan, finally christened!
 All they need is a dusting of icing sugar (I didn't bother with the traditional lemon juice)
 Keeping warm under one of my hand stitched tea towels :-)

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